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Joyu group assumes liabilities to AUM crime victims.

TOKYO, July 10 Kyodo

An AUM Shinrikyo splinter group has agreed to assume liability for paying compensation to survivors and bereaved families of victims of crimes committed by members of the religious cult in the 1980s and 1990s, two support groups for the victims said Friday.

The Hikari no Wa (Circle of Rainbow Light) group, led by former senior AUM Shinrikyo member Fumihiro Joyu, reached the agreement with groups led by lawyers Kenji Utsunomiya and Saburo Abe, respectively.

The two organizations have pressed the larger AUM group, which was renamed Aleph in 2002, to also assume liability. But talks with the Aleph group have run into difficulties.

Members of AUM Shinrikyo, or AUM Supreme Truth in English, staged sarin nerve gas attacks against a residential district in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, in 1994 and against Tokyo's subway system in 1995. A total of 20 people were killed in the sarin attacks. AUM members also killed an anti-AUM Yokohama lawyer, his wife and their son in 1989.

AUM founder Shoko Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, 54, is currently on death row after being found guilty in those crimes.

Joyu's group is liable to pay about 2.1 billion yen, the amount of claims handed over in March by AUM's bankruptcy administrator to the support groups, plus an unknown amount of damages in lawsuits filed by victims of AUM's crimes.

Under the agreement, Joyu's group is liable to pay damages annually to victims and is required to pay at least 3 million yen and desirably 8 million yen in 2009.

The amount of payment for 2010 and beyond will be decided depending on the group's financial situation.

Lawyer Abe, who served as AUM's bankruptcy administrator, told a news conference that the amount of payment by the Joyu group is small but that he regards the Joyu group's agreement as indicating its remorse to the victims and its departure from the AUM cult.

The Hikari no Wa group issued a statement saying it would renew an apology to the victims, help establish a society free from religious terrorism and make utmost efforts to pay damages.

Joyu and his followers left Aleph in 2007 to launch the Hikari no Wa group.
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Publication:Japan Weekly Monitor
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:Jul 13, 2009
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